Spiky Bridge – Swansea, Australia - Atlas Obscura
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Swansea, Australia

Spiky Bridge

This historic Australian bridge was built by convicts with giant stone spikes to prevent cattle from falling off the sides. 

Built out of local flagstones in 1843 by local convicts, the little bridge on the road between Swansea with Little Swanport is known simply as the Spiky Bridge due to the jagged flagstones that jut from the sides of the bridge walls, put in place, not to protect humans, but to keep cattle safe.

The span was constructed in 1843 as a way to connect two small, but burgeoning districts. Workers were not in abundant supply in the area until the Rocky Hills Probation Station was constructed in 1841. The new prison provided ample free labor in the form of convicts who could be made to haul the stones into place.

The construction of the bridge was decided upon after a local man gave the prison superintendent a ride home over the barely kept road, prompting the man to initiate the construction of the crude bridge. It was constructed as a simple span with little but a small stone arch to allow water to pass beneath the bridge. 

The “spikes” that give the bridge its name are said to have been put in place by to prevent passing cows from fall off the edge. There are also alternate tales that say the spikes were put in place to prevent suicide jumpers, although the shallow ditch makes that seem unlikely. It is also said that the convicts may have begun placing the stones at strange angles to spite their superiors. 

Whichever the case, the name, “Spiky Bridge” stuck and continues to be spiky to this day.